'92 utility hauler - Ford Bronco Forum
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post #1 of 175 (permalink) Old 03-18-2017, 03:08 AM Thread Starter
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'92 utility hauler

It's been a little over a week since I purchased my first truck of any kind, a '92 Bronco Sport 5.0L A/T. As I continue to bite off more and bigger car projects, I've been finding myself increasingly in need of rides various places to pick things up. I decided it's time to get a proper setup for towing when needed, plus general utility for hauling stuff. I don't have any off-road plans, but you never know.

Someone who was assisting me with a few of those trips suggested I follow the Copart and IAAI auctions for a donor vehicle with some of the parts I was in need of. So, I tested the waters on Copart last week, looking for vehicles of interest and getting the hang of the system, and ended up with the Bronco! I don't know how long they leave completed listings up, but here it is:

https://www.copart.com/lot/20305467

As you can see, it was an ex-forest service vehicle. Carfax showed only 16 records for the VIN, so it must have been in the gov't fleet up until fairly recently. I didn't order a report to see exactly when it switched over to private ownership.

I had the opening pre-bid at $70, with a max bid of $350 or so. After reading up more on the Bronco, I decided to up my max to $600 or $650. No damage and no mechanical issues listed, so it seemed worth a gamble. Only one other person bid, pushing me up to $90 at auction close. (I've since found enough loose change in it to offset 3.0% of the high bid.) At that point, the reserve price of $675 was revealed. I got a $625 counter-offer shortly after. I hoped to get it just below $600 to knock ~$30 off the buyer fees, so I countered at $550 and the seller countered back at $600. I decided not to push my luck, as it felt like they were drawing a line in the sand. The other one I had bid on previously didn't hit reserve and was pushed back a week.

$600 seemed like a steal, but then there's the $210 in buyer's fees, $59 gate fee, ~$40 credit card fee (I planned to pay by wire transfer for the "low risk" option, only to discover that you can only pay by credit card online, and $107 delivery fee. I was convinced by friends to not get a ride up and risk trying to drive it home, which is a good thing because the lack of mechanical issues in the listing turned out to mean zilch.

I purchased it on a Wed and was told I would hear from the delivery company in ~5 business days to schedule drop-off the following day. To my surprise, I came home Fri evening to see it sitting in front of my house! Keys in the ignition, no sign of the title... They dropped it off at 7:30 pm. I had to wait until Mon to call for more info. They had the title still and were putting it in the mail, but here it is Fri and I still haven't seen it.

The auction photos didn't show how messy the interior was, but I'm more than happy to go parts picking and learn how to fix things up. The frickin' hardtop is held on by c-clamps! All but two of the bolts are missing or snapped off.

First things first, the truck wouldn't start. I put the battery on the charger overnight and had it at full juice, but just a single click on key turn. The starter relay tested out okay, so I got a new starter in and it fired right up. However, it wouldn't idle unless I kept my foot on the gas. Once I let it die, it was pretty much impossible to start back up until cooled off. I've got about a dozen threads bookmarked of similar problems that I'm working through.

One of the first things I found was a big span was cut out of the black line to the vacuum reservoir. I did a temporary patch job on it, with new silicone vacuum hose on the way to replace all the thin plastic crap, but that didn't really change the start/idle symptoms.

Other issues and oddities:

- Throttle Position Sensor has 2 of its 3 wires bare. Motorcraft CX1228 replacement on order.

- Mystery box in engine bay, wired up to starter solenoid and an add-on distribution block. One end goes to cab, other end under the truck. It turned out to be some sort of monitoring device, wired into the speed sensor. But, it turned out worse, as they clipped the speed sensor wire instead of tapping into it, and it was quite difficult to patch a new piece in.

- Lots of moisture in air intake, downstream of the filter. Quite a bit of oil, too. I'll have to read up on what the thinking is behind the oil filler having a relief valve to the air box...

- The gear shift indicator doesn't work. I discovered that the white plastic piece that bolts to the right side of the steering column was broken, leaving it with no spring tension to move the indicator. I found a donor cluster at the junkyard, replacing my badly cracked/fogged/faded lens with a nice clean one, but the white plastic piece was broken on that one, too. So, I've got mine epoxied up and setting overnight. We'll see if it holds solid tomorrow when bolted back on, but if not, I figured out how to remove it from the cluster if I find a replacement.

- The dome light doesn't come on with driver's door, and I've got the base model with no map lights, so pitch black unless reaching across to open the passenger door. The wiring to the door plunger is a chopped up mess, so that'll need replacing. I picked up a Mustang dome light, which if I can get wired up with the addition of a +12V line, at least I'll have manual control of the map lights.

- The Grant GT steering wheel has no horn, just a dummy button... I'm hoping the PO didn't clip the horn wires when they installed it.

- The HVAC panel was faded to the point of being almost completely illegible unless the headlights (backlight) were on. I picked up a replacement at the junkyard. I still need to find a matching knob, as one of my three is broken. Ditto for the headlight knob, but I found a replacement for that. Much broken dash plastic from people yanking it off without knowing there are bolts behind the horizontal trim pieces. I should be getting some "new" interior stuff this weekend.

- Hazard button only brings on 1 of the 4 lights, but all of the turn signals work. You'd think they'd be one and the same.

- No cargo area light, just a blank cap on the interior side of the center brake light with wiring to it. I assume I'll be able to plug a light straight into that when I get one.

- Tailgate lock cylinder was missing, and my dash switch is defective, working in only one direction. I found a spare tailgate cylinder yesterday and checked with a locksmith about getting a key made for it ($35; can't key it to my key because it's from an '86 with different key profile), but am still hoping to get a full matched set this weekend.

I've got Ford Racing M12259R301 spark plug wires, AutoLite 25 plugs, MSD 8227 coil, MSD 8482 cap & rotor, and fuel and air filters on order. It sucks to do all the tune-up work without knowing if the "drive" side of the "runs and drive" equation is carrying its weight, but so it goes. I pulled the ECU (F2TF-12A650-AHB ... '92-93 Bronco F150 5.0L AT E40D) and didn't see any indication of capacitor leakage or board damage that might explain the startup behavior. I cleaned the IAC, but it wasn't particularly gunked up or sticky. The throttle body doesn't look bad, either. Someone must have been in there fairly recently.

The cargo area is pretty much gutted, with the fiberboard side panels being in horrific shape and the spray painted back seat not being anything I would want to sit on, let alone waste all that space having in there. Even the back side windows were spray painted black... I thought that was just bad window tint in the auction photos. Hours of scraping later and I've got them good and clean. I plan on putting 40/20/40 F250/F350 seats in up front, and maybe building side storage units with jump seats in back.

This got quite lengthy and text-heavy. I'll come back through and add some photos to liven it up. :) So far, I've only taken pics of aspects I'm diagnosing or fixing.
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Last edited by fodder; 03-18-2017 at 11:17 AM. Reason: that's how I roll
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post #2 of 175 (permalink) Old 03-18-2017, 09:40 AM
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Sounds like a steal for a '92! The listing shows it as a 4.9 V8. Should be a 4.9 I6 or 5.0 V8. Pic looks like a 5.0. Good luck with it! (Pls get the pics up soon!!)
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post #3 of 175 (permalink) Old 03-18-2017, 11:21 AM Thread Starter
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Sounds like a steal for a '92! The listing shows it as a 4.9 V8. Should be a 4.9 I6 or 5.0 V8. Pic looks like a 5.0. Good luck with it! (Pls get the pics up soon!!)
Thanks, always reassuring to hear a vote of approval, as I question what I got myself into. :)

Yeah, it's the 302 V8. I was confused by that while researching it, too. It says 5.0 right on it, but I've seen it listed as 4.95L various places, so maybe they rounded down instead of looking at the vehicle? Oh, and when I called about the status of the title (clean), they said their system indicates it was a donated vehicle, despite that not being in the listing. I found Portland parking stubs as recent as two months ago, so it was running up until fairly recently. That makes me hopeful that it'll be functional once I get the engine stuff sorted out. With the overall state of disrepair, they probably figured it wasn't worth the cost of tuning up.

It's been ridiculously wet this week (I fell in water almost up to my knees at the junkyard looking for parts, and it's flat as a pancake there), making it challenging to get any non-interior work done. Pictures have taken a back seat. I did a quick wash-down of the truck, though, so I wouldn't get covered in dirt/moss slime whenever I grabbed a door or leaned over the fender.
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post #4 of 175 (permalink) Old 03-18-2017, 04:05 PM Thread Starter
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I scored a nice stash of parts this morning:

- dash tailgate window switch
- ignition/door lock set & 2 keys (will replace the broken collar on my ignition cylinder)
- hardtop bolts and captive nuts
- spare tire and external carrier
- center console
- steering column/wheel (w/ CC, so doesn't match my options)
- non-broken gear indicator cable/mount
- owner's manual
- HVAC knob
- dash in better shape than mine, should I feel compelled to pull it

Plus, I met a cool Bronco dude in town!
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post #5 of 175 (permalink) Old 03-18-2017, 06:36 PM
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about that external spare carrier...don't install it unless yours had it before. they put a metal reinforcement in the panels to keep the metal from tearing.


sweet truck!

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post #6 of 175 (permalink) Old 03-18-2017, 06:45 PM Thread Starter
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about that external spare carrier...don't install it unless yours had it before. they put a metal reinforcement in the panels to keep the metal from tearing.
That's TBD. I need to poke around in there and see if the backing plate(s) is installed. It looks like the PO bondo'd over the mounting holes when painting the truck white. The outline of them is clearly visible through the paint. From what I was told, the carrier holes wouldn't be there for a truck that didn't come with it. Is that correct?

If so, I'll have to drill out the center of the bondo and then try to get the rest out with wire brushes. That sounds like endless fun.

BTW, even though I was already aware of the concern, I appreciate the feedback that would have saved me much grief if not!
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post #7 of 175 (permalink) Old 03-18-2017, 06:51 PM Thread Starter
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I got the dash switch installed and now have a working tailgate window in either direction. Yippee! Maybe I'll celebrate by lowering the glass, then getting some of the hardtop nuts and bolts installed. There's finally a break in the rain this afternoon.

My epoxied white plastic piece on the gear indicator didn't hold up at all, but I got the replacement one installed. I have three of them, with each of them broken in one spot or another. I had to swap good pieces from one over to good pieces from another. I still had a lot of trouble with the slider (that the gear marker is on) binding in the P and R areas, even with the track lubed with white lithium grease. The problem is that the cable sits a bit lower horizontally than the slider, so it gets tweaked in the groove. I eventually got it working fairly reliably with the worst looking of the three springs.

I might dissect the spare steering column and see if I can get the stock '94 steering wheel transferred over to replace my goofy aftermarket one. I probably need to do that before buttoning the dash back up, so doing it now will save a step.
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post #8 of 175 (permalink) Old 03-18-2017, 08:32 PM Thread Starter
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I only got one key with the truck (soon to be a non-issue when I put in the lock set I bought today) and had planned on getting a spare or two made before driving it. While securing the hardtop with the proper hardware, I ran across a brand new spare in a hide-a-key box under the horizontal rail it bolts to. Score!
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post #9 of 175 (permalink) Old 03-19-2017, 01:05 AM
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sounds like a great adventure and for that price, you're already ahead of the game.

the concern I'd have is you said at the beginning you bought this rig for towing. if you plan on towing anything of any real size, you might not be as happy with the 302.
I recently sold my '90 Custom 5.0 w/275 HP and picked up a '95 XLT 5.8. Both have 4.56 gears and they made a huge difference, but in the end... I just wasn't happy towing with the 302 and I ended up doing it... a lot. It'll do it... but not as happily.





Many will say that the Bronco's wheelbase doesn't make it the ideal towing rig. That's very true... but I've still found them adequate when the job needs done, with some proper preparation and conscious weight loading. Owning a Bronco and having a trailer to haul stuff around is almost required, for me anyway. I picked up that old golf cart, tilt trailer for $600 off craigslist. It's 4' x 11' and I've never wanted for lack of a pickup bed and I laugh at the thought when load up the low riding, tilt trailer. I'm also lucky enough to have a good neighbor with a really nice car/truck hauler, for those emergency or "hook a friend up" deals.
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post #10 of 175 (permalink) Old 03-19-2017, 03:06 AM Thread Starter
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the concern I'd have is you said at the beginning you bought this rig for towing. if you plan on towing anything of any real size, you might not be as happy with the 302.
Possibly, but I don't anticipate more than the occasional such usage, and not over long distances, so my performance expectations aren't high so long as it's dependable.

Worst case scenario, the Bronco begs me for an engine swap. :)

Quote:
I just wasn't happy towing with the 302 and I ended up doing it... a lot.
That's probably the main difference. I wanted something adequate, but not so over-built size-wise that it's not enjoyable the rest of the time. If I could tow more than a bag of potatoes with the Miata, that would be my perfect sized rig!

Quote:
Owning a Bronco and having a trailer to haul stuff around is almost required, for me anyway. I picked up that old golf cart, tilt trailer for $600 off craigslist. It's 4' x 11' and I've never wanted for lack of a pickup bed and I laugh at the thought when load up the low riding, tilt trailer. I'm also lucky enough to have a good neighbor with a really nice car/truck hauler, for those emergency or "hook a friend up" deals.
Unless it's long and wide stuff like sheets of plywood, or I suppose very tall stuff, I figure I can fit quite a bit in now that I've got the back seat removed. I'm not sure yet what I'll do for a trailer or car dolly, as my property makes it nearly impossible to store, but I've got a few friends I can borrow one from when needed. Or rent a u-haul dolly for the day.
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post #11 of 175 (permalink) Old 03-19-2017, 10:17 AM
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For towing, you do have the advantage of factory 4.10 gears, if i am correct about the axle code. Most broncos came with 3.55

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post #12 of 175 (permalink) Old 03-19-2017, 11:33 AM Thread Starter
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For towing, you do have the advantage of factory 4.10 gears, if i am correct about the axle code. Most broncos came with 3.55
Is that determined by the door jamb sticker? Mine is tough to read, having been painted white along with the rest of the vehicle. Ugh. They really didn't mask anything off, inside or out.
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post #13 of 175 (permalink) Old 03-19-2017, 04:19 PM Thread Starter
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That's TBD. I need to poke around in there and see if the backing plate(s) is installed. It looks like the PO bondo'd over the mounting holes when painting the truck white. The outline of them is clearly visible through the paint. From what I was told, the carrier holes wouldn't be there for a truck that didn't come with it. Is that correct?
I got the bondo cleaned out of the bolt holes. I couldn't see any way to peek inside and look for the backing plates like I was able to with the '86 at the junkyard, but there's about 8 threads deep in each bolt hole. Is it safe to assume that's the factory backing plate, or is there something else that would go behind that? The bolts seem unnecessarily long as is.

The carrier mounted up just fine and feels very solid. I'm missing the tailgate catch in my bag of hardware, though, so I haven't put the tire on it yet.
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post #14 of 175 (permalink) Old 03-19-2017, 06:21 PM
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axle H5 is 4.10 limited slip rear and 4.09 front.

Factory 4.10 Gears?

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post #15 of 175 (permalink) Old 03-19-2017, 06:49 PM
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post #16 of 175 (permalink) Old 03-19-2017, 08:49 PM Thread Starter
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axle H5 is 4.10 limited slip rear and 4.09 front.
Awesome, thanks for the link. Your eyes are correct, that does say H5.

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Thanks. :) Aside from the Running & Driving unknown, I'm feeling pretty good about it. It looks a helluva lot better already (pics coming soon...), and all my tune-up parts will be trickling in this week.
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post #17 of 175 (permalink) Old 03-20-2017, 12:13 AM
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sounds like you got it all fingered out. fortunately, a great axle setup too.
if you find yourself with wheels up in the air, you might try the rolling count test to verify it... being as you never know where it's been or what it's been through.

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post #18 of 175 (permalink) Old 03-20-2017, 01:15 AM Thread Starter
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if you find yourself with wheels up in the air, you might try the rolling count test to verify it... being as you never know where it's been or what it's been through.
Not a bad idea. I've read about that test and never figured I'd have reason to employ it.

Okay, time to catch up on some photos...



Better shot of the painted-over door sticker.




Cargo area pretty well gutted. You can see the sloppy black paint over-spray on the back of the front seats. The entire back seats were painted black, but not with much conviction. Given how much the black paint is flaking away around the tailgate, I'm guessing they didn't even bother with primer.




Forest Service green on full display! You can see my neighbor's near-twin, a '92 F250.




Rear view of the cargo area. Visibility is terrific with the back side windows cleared of their black spray paint. Go figure.




Hardtop was held down by c-clamps. That non-OEM bolt sticking up (another one on the other side) was the only other thing sort of holding it in place. Side panels had seen significantly better days.




Dash updates. Replaced faded HVAC panel & missing knobs, mounted trailer brake controller, replaced cracked dash pad, new steering column shroud, replaced ignition lock cylinder, replaced gauge lens and gear indicator.




New dash pad to replace the old cracked one. It had some velcro on it that will need paint blending. Some of those 7 nuts aren't much fun to get to with the dash installed (and the mix of 3/8" and 9mm is annoying), but the pad was my only bad aspect and that seemed preferable to swapping the full dash. I'll need to mask stuff off and do a more comprehensive painting of the dash so it's black all the way up to the window. The PO tried spraying it and realized they were hitting the glass, so abruptly abandoned the project.




Crystal clear gauge cluster lens; a huge improvement over the old cracked and cloudy one. New tailgate window switch. New headlight knob waiting to go on once the cluster surround is back in. The old knob was broken off, so the PO partially broke the cluster surround so they could reach around it to pull the headlight shaft... Brilliant.




Two gauge cluster surrounds to choose from, both broken in different places... Mix and match time!




The aftermarket steering wheel was "prettied" up with a hot glued column shroud that refused to come apart intact. Good thing my spare steering column had a good donor shroud. I'll put the stock wheel on as soon as my puller arrives. I couldn't get enough leverage to pull it off, even with hammer blows to the bolt, with nothing locking the end in place.
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post #19 of 175 (permalink) Old 03-20-2017, 03:42 PM Thread Starter
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Big session of parts pulling today. I went to another junkyard I've never been to, part of the same family of yards and specializing more in '90s trucks. They had a '95 (?) Bronco there with most of what I needed to finish things up, but it was the blue/violet/gray interior so I ended up taking almost everything to have a matching set...

- cargo area side panels w/ pockets.
- cargo area retractable shade.
- cargo area window trim.
- cargo light (need to figure out how it mounts to my dummy cover w/out the headliner to hold it in).
- seat belt covers, door trim, windshield trim.
- center console in much nicer shape than the one I got the other day.
- front seat belt stalks (mine have the plastic sheaths all busted up).
- gauge cluster surround w/ almost no broken bits.
- spare dash tailgate switch.
- tailgate cable to replace my one broken one (just ordered a new set this weekend).
- tailgate emblem.
- K&N intake tube that looks like it went with the vehicle before the engine was pulled (has the correct dual TB).
- misc. fasteners and probably a few things I'm forgetting, plus a couple things for two of the other cars.

Now to give everything a thorough cleaning so I can get it installed!

I left the cab headliner, as I wouldn't be able to fit it in my car. That would be a nice addition if I can get the Bronco running to go back for it. Maybe the blue dash, too, if I feel like pulling it for a little nicer one. All those hardtop bolts I just put in, I'll have to take out again to add the clips under them if I want to install the window trim to complete the side panels... Oh, and I left the door panels which were in good shape, since they were electric and don't have the cutout for my manual cranks.
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post #20 of 175 (permalink) Old 03-20-2017, 07:16 PM
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sounds like she's coming right along.
I'm waiting for things to dry up a little more before I hit the yards.

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